Complete Guide to Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando

 Even the sign at Cabana Bay Beach Resort has a retro theme. 

Even the sign at Cabana Bay Beach Resort has a retro theme. 

What Is Cabana Bay Beach Resort?

Cabana Bay Beach Resort is one of five on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort.

It has a unique retro theme that makes you feel like you are stepping into an episode of Mad Men. The entire décor, both inside and out, is reminiscent of Florida beach resorts from the 1950s and 1960s.  

With 2,200 guest rooms, Cabana Bay Beach Resort is the largest of Universal Orlando's hotels. It is also one of the most affordable.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a Prime Value Resort like Universal's Aventura. The other hotels are known as Preferred Hotels or Premier Hotels.

But don't let the 'value' aspect fool you - this hotel is a very nice place to stay. In fact, it is our favorite on-site hotel and the one we recommend the most to singles, couples, and families. 

 The front desk at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The front desk at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

things Covered in this Cabana Bay Beach Resort Guide

In this Guide to Cabana Bay Beach Resort, we're going to explore some of the finer points of this Universal Orlando on-site hotel as well as things that are important to vacationers like costs, discounts, transportation, and the benefits and drawbacks of staying at Cabana Bay. More specifically, we'll cover:

  • Hotel Layout and Location
  • Room Types    
  • Room Prices
  • Amenities and Benefits
  • Pools and the Lazy River
  • Poolside Activities
  • Dining, Bars, and Room Service
  • Drink Deals
  • Recreation (including the bowling alley, arcade, and fitness center)
  • Shopping
  • Parking and Associated Fees
  • Transportation (getting to Cabana Bay, the theme parks, and other nearby attractions)
  • Booking Options 
  • Coupons, Promotions, and Discounts
  • Cabana Bay vs. Other On-Site Hotels

This UO Fan Guide to Cabana Bay also provides you with an exclusive review of the resort and tips that will make your stay more pleasurable. Let's get started.

 The Americana wing at Cabana Bay. Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

The Americana wing at Cabana Bay. Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

Cabana Bay Layout and Location 

Cabana Bay Beach Resort first opened its doors in 2014, which means that it is still relatively new. The hotel is co-owned and operated by Loews Hotels and Resorts

Cabana Bay is located on one single piece of property but is split into several sections. There are two long wings on the south end of the property known as the Americana and the Continental. The lobby, bus stop, and common areas (such as the food court and bowling alley) are located in the center. And on the north end, there are three separate four-story buildings that house family suites. The buildings are known as the Starlight, Castaway, and Thunderbird.

Some other basic information about Cabana Bay Beach Resort:

 Standard room at Cabana Bay. Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

Standard room at Cabana Bay. Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

Cabana Bay Rooms    

All of the rooms at Cabana Bay are retro-themed and popping with explosive color. It is hard not to feel cheerful when you're surrounded by the lively décor. Many of the rooms at Cabana Bay are connecting rooms, which means that you can book two rooms next to each other and travel back and forth between the two via an adjoining door.

Cabana Bay Room Types    

There are two basic types of rooms at Cabana Bay Beach Resort:

  • Standard Room: The standard rooms at Cabana Bay have one bathroom, two queen-sized beds, a small refrigerator, and a television. Each room sleeps up to four people. Standard rooms are about 359 square feet. 
  • Family Suite: Cabana Bay's family suites have one extra-large bathroom, two queen-sized beds, a pull-out couch, two televisions, and a kitchenette with a refrigerator, microwave, and sink. Each suite sleeps up to six people. Family suites are about 478 square feet.
 Family suite at Cabana Bay. Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

Family suite at Cabana Bay. Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

Once you have chosen between a standard room and a family suite, you can select rooms based on location/view. For example, there is a regular standard room and a standard poolside room. As the name suggests, the poolside room is on the side of the hotel with the swimming pool. All standard rooms are located in the Americana and Continental buildings. 

Family suites have even more options. You can choose to be in a tower family suite, a tower family suite poolside, a courtyard family suite, or a courtyard family suite poolside.

The tower suites are located on the south end of the property (where the Americana and Continental wings are located) and the courtyard family suites are on the north end of the property in the four-story Starlight, Castaway, and Thunderbird buildings. 

Cabana Bay Room Expansion

In August of 2015, Universal Orlando Resort announced that it would be expanding Cabana Bay Beach Resort by 400 rooms to bring the total available guest rooms on this property up to 2,200. Construction began shortly afterward. The 400 new rooms are housed in two towers connected to the existing resort via a bridge. Some of these rooms have views of Volcano Bay, Universal's newest water theme park.  

Cabana Bay Room Prices

Room rates at Cabana Bay Beach Resort are based on a lot of different things, but they are especially dependent on travel dates. The hotel has seasonal rates, which means it is much cheaper to stay certain times of the year compared to other times. For example, rooms tend to be cheaper in January, February, and September than they are in June and July. The most expensive dates are those that fall on or around a holiday, like spring break, Christmas, or New Year's.

Cabana Bay Amenities & Benefits

Because Cabana Bay is an on-site hotel, you will receive special benefits while you stay. The most valuable benefit is early park admission. This special privilege will let you enter the theme park, specifically the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one hour before the park opens to other guests. Other amenities and benefits include:

  • Resort-wide charging privileges that allow you to use your Cabana Bay room key to pay for food and merchandise at the hotel, parks, and CityWalk. All of your purchases are charged to your room. 
  • Free merchandise delivery so that you can shop throughout the resort without having to carry everything you buy. All of your purchases will be delivered to your Cabana Bay room.
  • Complimentary shuttlebus transportation from Cabana Bay to CityWalk, where you can easily walk to both theme parks. Buses start running before the park opens and run continuously throughout the day until about 2:30 am (shortly after CityWalk closes).
  • Complimentary shuttlebus transportation from the bus drop-off area near CityWalk to nearby attractions like SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Wet 'n Wild. 
 Diving platform in the Cabana Bay Courtyard pool.

Diving platform in the Cabana Bay Courtyard pool.

Cabana Bay Pools and Lazy River

Cabana Bay Beach Resort has two enormous swimming pools on site. Both swimming pools are heated and feature zero-entry white sand beaches, lounge chair seating, and plenty of fluffy white towels in poolside cabinets. Both pools also have a nearby hot tub and lifeguard stands. 

The pool hours can change on occasion depending on the season, but both pools are typically open from at least 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. Pools may be closed if there is severe weather. You will need your room key to enter either pool area. Cabana Bay room keys can also be used to access pools at other on-site hotels if you feel like pool hopping. 

Cabana Bay Courtyard Pool

The first swimming pool is located in the Cabana Courtyard near the family suites in the Starlight, Castaway, and Thunderbird buildings. This 10,000 square foot pool has an old-fashioned diving platform with multiple levels (for decoration only) and a 100 foot water slide. There is also a poolside bar known as the Atomic Tonic where you can get cocktails, frozen drinks, beer, and wine. Private cabanas are available for a fee in the Cabana Courtyard. Fees vary depending on the season and availability. Each cabana has a TV, phone, Wi-Fi access, mini-fridge with bottled water, fan, and lounge chairs. There is also a safe where you can store your valuables while you go for a swim. You can rent private cabanas by calling 407-503-4175.

Lazy River Courtyard Pool

The second swimming pool is located in the Lazy River Courtyard near the Americana and Continental buildings. This 6,000 square foot pool is next to a lazy river (the only one on resort property). You can bring an inflatable tube from home to float down the lazy river or purchase one for a reasonable price from the Tube Shack, which is conveniently located next to the lazy river. If you get hungry, you can head over to the nearby Hideaway Grille, a casual poolside restaurant that serves food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. 

 The lazy river at Cabana Bay.

The lazy river at Cabana Bay.

Poolside Activities

You can find poolside activities and recreation near both Cabana Bay pools. The Cabana Bay Courtyard has picnic tables, a pool table, ping-pong table, and bean bag toss games. The Lazy River Courtyard has a splash pad for kids as well as poolside games.

Both pools have fire pits that are lit at night. You can bring the makings for s'mores from home or buy a make-your-own s'mores kit in the hotel's Bayliner Diner if you feel like having snacks while you stare into the fire.  

At dusk, the hotel plays a dive-in movie that you can watch while you're swimming or lounging by the pool. The scheduled movie is usually advertised in the lobby and near the food court. You can also ask the front desk about other poolside activities that are scheduled during your stay. Cabana Bay often has ping-pong and hula-hoop contests and has even been known to host concerts and DJs by the pools. 

Cabana Bay Recreation

The pools aren't the only opportunity for recreation at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The hotel also has its own bowling alley, arcade, and an exclusive fitness center. All three of these recreation spaces are located on the second floor of the central building in the very heart of Cabana Bay. Let's take a closer look at each of these recreation opportunities. 

Galaxy Bowl

The Galaxy Bowl is a 10-lane bowling alley located next door to the Game-O-Rama Arcade. If the Galaxy Bowl looks familiar to you, it may be because the design was inspired by Hollywood Star Lanes, the bowling alley from the Big Lebowski movie.  You can purchase one hour of lane time if you have a small group of people or 90 minutes if you have a larger group. It costs about $15 for adults and a little less for kids. The Galaxy Bowl serves food and drinks as well. (Learn more about the menu in the dining section, which is located a little further down in this guide.) 

Game-O-Rama

The arcade at Cabana Bay is known as the Game-O-Rama. Inside you'll find plenty of modern arcade games in addition to retro games like Skee-Ball and table hockey. All of the games require game cards, which can be purchased at kiosks located in the arcade. A $20 bill will get you enough credit to play for quite a while. Some of the games spit out tickets that can be redeemed for trinkets like toys and stuffed animals. Not surprisingly, you need A LOT of tickets to get the good prizes.  

Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio

The Cabana Bay fitness center is named after Jack LaLanne, the "godfather of fitness." LaLanne opened America's first health and fitness club in 1936. He was also the star of The Jack LaLanne Show, which debuted in the 1950s and became the longest-running exercise-themed program on TV. Use of the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio is free for Cabana Bay guests. The studio is packed with expensive high-tech exercise equipment, including weights and cardiovascular machines. You'll also find locker rooms, Jack LaLanne memorabilia, and TVs playing old episodes of The Jack LaLanne Show. 

 Universal Orlando Resort Store in Cabana Bay.

Universal Orlando Resort Store in Cabana Bay.

Cabana Bay Shopping

Cabana Bay Beach Resort has just one shopping outlet in the hotel: a Universal Orlando Resort Store. You can find all sorts of theme park merchandise in here - from Universal sweatshirts and mugs to items like robes, hats, scarves, pins, stuffed animals, and collectibles for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The store also sells resort apparel, merchandise with the Cabana Bay logo on it, and everyday items like newspapers, sunscreen, and other vacation necessities. Items that you buy here can usually be returned as long as you return them promptly and in good condition with the receipt.

Cabana Bay Dining, Bars and Room Service

Cabana Bay Beach Resort has multiple dining options for guests and day visitors. You can also find multiple bars and limited room service.

Dining

The dining options in Cabana Bay include a food court, the restaurant in the bowling alley, a poolside bar and grill, and a Starbucks.

  • Bayliner Diner: The most popular dining option at Cabana Bay is the 600-seat food court known as the Bayliner Diner. This food court has multiple stations that are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It works well for families and large parties who don't want to eat the same thing, but do want to dine together. You simply go to the station you want, order your food, and pay at a single cash register before entering the dining area. The Bayliner Diner opens early in the morning and closes at about 10:00 pm. You can see menus with prices and learn more about food options and prices by looking at our Bayliner Diner Dining Guide.
  • Galaxy Bowl: The bowling alley serves food to people who are playing the lanes as well as guests who just wander in for a snack. Food options include appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and desserts. You can also order soda, beer, wine, and cocktails. See the full Galaxy Bowl menu for more information about menu items and prices. 
  • Hideaway Bar and Grill: This poolside restaurant is located in the Lazy River Courtyard. Food options include appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and desserts. You can also get alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages like soda, beer, wine, cocktails, and frozen drinks.  You can learn more about seating, menus, and pricing in our Guide to Hideaway Bar and Grill
  • Starbucks: A lot of Cabana Bay guests get their morning coffee and handheld breakfasts at the Starbucks near the lobby. Unlike most Starbucks locations, this one has a special retro, pop art theme to help you imagine what a Starbucks might have looked like had it existed in the 1960s. 

It is also easy to dine at other on-site hotels thanks to the free Hotel Dining Shuttle that will take you from Cabana Bay to Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls Resort, or Portofino Bay Resort. This 10-person shuttle stops in front of the Cabana Bay lobby every 30 minutes from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The ride to each hotel is short, but Universal Orlando Resort recommends boarding the bus a little early if you made dinner reservations so that you can arrive at your desired restaurant at least 15 minutes prior to your reservation. You can learn more about the shuttle service by visiting the front desk at Cabana Bay. 

 Cabana Bay's Swizzle Lounge has a fun, retro drink menu.

Cabana Bay's Swizzle Lounge has a fun, retro drink menu.

Bars

Cabana Bay Beach Resort has two bars: the poolside Atomic Tonic and a lobby bar known as the Swizzle Lounge. 

  • Atomic Tonic: Located next to the pool in the Cabana Bay Courtyard, this bar serves a small selection of drinks, including something known as an Atomic Tonic (see the official Atomic Tonic recipe for a taste of Cabana Bay).  You can check out the full Atomic Tonic menu to learn more about some of the other drinks served at this bar. 
  • Swizzle Lounge: Small but swanky, the Swizzle Lounge has the same retro feel that can be found throughout the rest of the hotel. You can order old-fashioned drinks like slings and side cars. There is also a nice selection of draft beers, craft beers, and wines. See our Swizzle Lounge Guide for more info on the drink menu and prices. 

Room Service

Cabana Bay does not have traditional room service, but you can get pizza, salad, breadsticks, dessert, soda, beer, and wine from Delizioso Pizza. Your order will be delivered directly to your hotel room. Ordering is easy; just call (407) 503-4300 or dial 3-4300 from your room. This service is available Sunday through Thursday from noon until midnight and Friday through Saturday from noon until 1:00 am. Ten-inch pizzas cost about $13-$15. Kid's pizzas are cheaper. See the full Delizioso Pizza menu to learn about all of the pizza and drink options.  

 Sonic Fill cups can be purchased at Bayliner Diner in Cabana Bay.

Sonic Fill cups can be purchased at Bayliner Diner in Cabana Bay.

Cabana Bay Drink Deals

Cabana Bay Beach Resort has Coca-Cola Freestyle machines in the Bayliner Diner food court and in the Galaxy Bowl. If you plan on drinking a lot of soda during your stay, you may want to consider investing in a Sonic Fill cup. With this Cabana Bay themed souvenir cup, you can get free refills all day long at the soda machines at the hotel. It costs about $9 for a single day and about $18 for the duration of your stay. Annual passholders can save 10 percent on their Sonic Fill purchase.

Important note: The theme parks have two drink refill programs: one that allows free refills at Coca-Cola Freestyle machines and one that involves a souvenir cup and discounted refills. The Sonic Fill program at Cabana Bay is not the same thing as the drink refill programs that exist in the theme parks. You will not be able to get free refills in the parks with your Cabana Bay cup, and you will not be able to get free refills in Cabana Bay with your theme park Freestyle cup or your theme park souvenir cup. 

Cabana Bay Parking

Cabana Bay Beach Resort charges a fee for parking at the hotel. This fee is $12 per day for hotel guests staying overnight (on top of the room charges) and $45 per day for hotel day-guests (after 30 minutes). 

Parking at Cabana Bay typically involves self-parking. There is usually ample parking for everyone, but the multiple parking lots can fill up quickly when the hotel is at or near capacity. If you move your car during the day, don't be surprised if someone parks in your spot while you're away.

Transportation to Cabana Bay

If you are flying into the Orlando International Airport, you can use SuperStar Shuttle, the Universal shuttle service, to get from the airport to Cabana Bay. You can make a reservation for the shuttle and learn more about prices by calling 1-866-604-7557.  If you are driving to Cabana Bay, you can find driving directions on the Universal Orlando Resort website. 

 The Cabana Bay bus. Image Credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

The Cabana Bay bus. Image Credit: Universal Orlando Resort.

Getting to the Theme Parks

Guests at Cabana Bay Beach Resort receive free shuttlebus transportation to and from CityWalk. The bus stop is located near the lobby. Buses begin running before the parks open and run continuously throughout the day until about 2:30 am. A new bus arrives about every five to ten minutes, so you should never have to wait long. The bus will drop you off at the CityWalk entrance, which is just a short walk away from Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. You can get back on the bus in the same place you were dropped off to ride back to Cabana Bay. 

You can also walk to the theme parks from Cabana Bay on a very nicely landscaped walking path. The distance is just under a mile. Most people can walk it in about 15 to 20 minutes. The path takes you into CityWalk. You enter by Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, which is just steps away from Islands of Adventure and a short distance away from Universal Studios Florida. Taking this path can be beneficial because the lines for the required security check (you must walk through a metal detector and submit your bag for a search) are much shorter here than they are at the other CityWalk entrance near the bus drop off and parking garage. 

 Other on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort have a free water taxi service to take guests from the hotels to CityWalk.

Other on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort have a free water taxi service to take guests from the hotels to CityWalk.

Transportation to Other Nearby Attractions

Cabana Bay guests can also get free shuttlebus transportation from CityWalk to nearby attractions like SeaWorld and Aquatica. Unlike the Cabana Bay shuttle, this bus does not run continuously throughout the day. Transportation is scheduled, and you must make reservations to ride. You should speak to someone at the concierge desk at Cabana Bay to make reservations and learn more about bus schedules. 

Cabana Bay Booking Options 

There are several different ways to book a room at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. You can book directly through the Loews website, which offers a best price guarantee, or through the Universal Orlando Resort website.

If you plan on buying theme park tickets and a hotel room, you can book your room as part of a vacation package through Universal Orlando Vacations.

Other options include booking engines like Expedia.com, where you can save with Expedia coupons and offers, or having a travel agent book the trip at no extra cost to you.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Coupons, Promotions, and Discounts

As stated earlier in this Fan Guide, most of the room prices at Cabana Bay are based on seasonal rates. However, there are a few different ways that you can save on a room. 

  • If you stay four nights or more, you can save as much as 35 percent with a Stay More, Save More discount. 
  • If you live in the state of Florida, you can save almost 40 percent on select nights with Florida resident discounts
  • Universal annual passholders get annual passholder rates that let them save a significant amount of money on Cabana Bay rooms. Passholders can also get discounts at Bayliner Diner, the Cabana Bay tube shack, and at the Galaxy Bowl (on food). 

Cabana Bay vs. Other On-Site Hotels

The main thing that sets Cabana Bay apart from the other on-site hotels is the price. Cabana Bay is the cheapest on-site hotel option. However, there are a couple of things that you must give up to save money. When you stay at some of the other on-site hotels, including Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Loews Portofino Bay Resort, you get priority seating at select restaurants throughout the resort, free water taxi service, and Express Passes, which allow you to skip the regular lines at the theme parks. Each Express Pass is valued at $89 per person per day. Though, during busy times, the pass can cost much more than that. Other on-site hotels at Universal Orlando include Aventura Hotel and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Neither hotel offers free Express Passes, but Loews Sapphire Falls Resort has a free water taxi service that takes you to and from the parks. 

UO Fan Guide Tips for Hotel Guests

  • Cabana Bay is a large property. If you want to be near the bus stop, you should ask for a room in the Continental or Americana buildings. If you want to be near the walking path, you should get a family suite in the Thunderbird building.
  • Room rates are based on double occupancy. If you have more than two adults in each room, you will need to pay an extra fee per day for every extra adult (kids can stay for free with adults). Fees can vary but typically start at $25 per day per extra person. For example, if there are four adults in one room, you will need to pay $25 extra per day for the third adult and $25 extra per day for the fourth adult. 
  • The family suites are just a little more expensive than the standard rooms (and may even be cheaper if you're an annual passholder). It may be worth the extra money to get a bigger bathroom, a living room area, and a kitchenette. 
  • Cabana Bay has a laundromat on site if you need to wash or dry your clothes.
  • Every room has an empty mini-fridge. If possible, consider bringing you own bottled water and soda from home; it could save you a lot of money.
  • Family suites are equipped with plastic plates, bowls, and flatware to make in-room dining easier. 
  • There are designated smoking areas on hotel property.
 Cabana Bay Beach Resort mural.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort mural.

Review of Cabana Bay Beach Resort

We give Cabana Bay Beach Resort high marks for its theming, pools, recreation, and casual dining options. The value is also remarkable. In most cases, the rooms at Cabana Bay are less than half of the price of rooms at the other resorts. Sure, you don't get an Express Pass, but if you're visiting during a slow season when wait times for theme park rides are minimal, you may not need one.  Furthermore, it might be cheaper to stay at Cabana Bay and buy an Express Pass every day if you are by yourself or with just one other person. Although the Express Passes are valued at $89, Express Passes can sometimes be purchased for less than that at the parks if you're not visiting during the holidays or a peak season. 

Many people view Cabana Bay as a family hotel, and while it is very welcoming to families, it can also be a very fun and relaxing hotel for single people, young people, and couples. Cabana Bay feels casual and upbeat - not cheap. It is our favorite place to stay when we visit Universal Orlando Resort, and we recommend it to everyone else who visits. Even if you choose to stay at another on-site hotel, you can find something to do at Cabana Bay: float down the lazy river, go bowling, have a drink at the Swizzle Lounge, or just walk around and soak up the retro vibe. 

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Image Gallery 

Use the arrows on each side of each picture to navigate this Cabana Bay image gallery.